The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
The Blood Moon captured over Durban by our photographer Sibusiso Ndlovu
Durban - On Friday night you witnessed something that won't happen again in our lifetime - the longest total lunar eclipse, otherwise known as the “blood moon”, and the closest that Mars will be to Earth than it will be for the next 270 years.

Mars is sitting about 57.6 million kilometres away and appeared as the bright star adjacent to the moon, making for a spectacular celestial fest.

The lunar eclipse was the longest this century, about two hours long, starting at 9.30pm.

Durban residents had their eyes to the skies from the onset of darkness, watching as the moon entered Earth’s shadow. The reason for the “blood” colour of the moon is the effect of sunlight being cast towards the moon, giving it a red hue.

While many local astronomers headed for the high hills and clear skies of the Drakensberg for the viewing, the eclipse was visible to anyone who had their eye on the moon.

“For those new to astronomy, the evening may prove to be a mesmerising introduction to core scientific principles,” said Dr Daniel Cunnama, science engagement astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

“For experienced observers, the sight of the eclipse continues to be mesmerising even when witnessed repeatedly.

"Young visitors will be entertained and perhaps be inspired to an interest in the wonders of nature and science,” he said.

For Logan Govender, spokesperson for the Durban Astronomical Society, the eclipse would intrigue budding astronomers.

“It’s wonderful to have been able to see the eclipse with no protection, and hopefully it’s inspired people to learn about astronomy. For me, viewing bits of the Milky Way is special,” he said.

A "Super Blood Moon" and Mars rise during a lunar eclipse over Cairo on Friday. Picture: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh


According to the Daily Mail, this was the longest eclipse of the 21st century because of a rare pairing of cosmic events.

“The first is that the moon will be passing in a direct line behind Earth, meaning it travels through the widest part of the circular shadow cast by our planet. The second is that the moon is currently at the point in its elliptical orbit when it is furthest away from Earth - a moment called the lunar apogee - causing it to take longer to pass through the shadow. It also means the moon will appear as the smallest full moon of the year. It’s a stunningly rare chance to witness what star-gazers call a micro-blood moon. Mars always appears red, due to the clouds of dust that swirl around its atmosphere containing high concentrations of iron oxide, the same compound that gives a ruddy hue to rust and human blood,” according to the Daily Mail.

There won't be another lunar eclipse for 18 years.